Ferrari has started its 2016 campaign on the right foot after Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time late in the morning of the opening day of Formula 1 pre-season testing on Pirelli’s medium compound tyre.

However, it was reigning champion Lewis Hamilton who was the most impressive throughout the day, racking up a remarkable 156 laps throughout both sessions and was just under half a second off Vettel’s benchmark.

Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Red Bull Racing 1.1 seconds off the pace. The new RB12, which will still run a Renault engine under the TAG Heuer badge after the fallout between the two parties during last season, still lacks power according to the Australian.

“It pretty much feels like we ended last season,” Ricciardo told Autosport.


Daniel Ricciardo posted the RB12’s first laps.

“Which isn’t a bad thing, I think on day one it’s a lot better platform to work from than what we had this time last year.

“There wasn’t any whiplash or anything like this, but I’m a bit happier and it’s a good start, it’s probably all we can ask for, for now.”

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas ended the day’s testing in fifth position just 0.47s behind Ricciardo’s best time, and two-tenths of a second quicker than Alfonso Celis Jr in the Force India. The 19-year-old reserve driver posted his fastest lap on the soft compound tyre and finished the day with 58 laps to his name.

Jenson Button was sixth in the McLaren-Honda, 1.8 seconds off Vettel’s best. The day was very encouraging for McLaren as they managed to lap the Circuit de Catalunya 84 times, five more laps than they were able complete over the four days testing at the beginning of last season.

Toro Rosso finished seventh with Carlos Sainz Jr at the wheel, 2.2 seconds down the order, and four-tenths of a second quicker than Marcus Ericsson in Sauber’s 2015 car. Toro Rosso ran an unmarked car as their livery is still being finalised and will be unveiled next Tuesday.

DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein put in his first laps with Manor, only managing eight laps in the morning session after Manor received parts late the night before testing started. The afternoon session was more encouraging for the German as he completed 46 laps to bring his total to 54.

Romain Grosjean experienced a front wing failure in the morning session in his first running with the new Haas F1 Team, which compromised the rest of the day’s testing causing the team to finish tenth in the session with 31 laps.

Renault finished their first session back in the sport at the bottom of the table, after Jolyon Palmer endured a day full of “niggles”. Palmer was just over four seconds off the pace with 37 laps to his name.

“It was a disappointing first day,” Palmer said afterwards.

“It’s been challenging, such a messy day. I’d hoped to have done more than 37 laps. We’d definitely have liked to have got more under our belt.

“It’s just difficult to understand it really. The guys worked all day trying to get on top of that and we made progress throughout the day.

“They’ve already cut [testing] down from 12 days to eight, and I’ve only got 37 laps out of one, so it’s not ideal.”

Images via XPB Images & Red Bull Content Pool

Monday Test Results:

Driver Team / Entry Laps Best Time
1. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H 69 1:24.939
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 156 + 0.470
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB12 87 + 1.105
4. Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 80 + 1.152
5. Alfonso Celis Jr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 58 + 1.359
6. Jenson Button McLaren-Honda MP4-31 84 + 1.796
7. Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 55 + 2.241
8. Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 88 + 2.616
9. Pascal Wehrlein Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 54 + 3.353
10. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-16 31 + 3.460
11. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 37 + 4.417


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Josh Kruse

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